50 Years Ago – June, 1972

     On June 4, members of Cub Scout Pack 3 of Greenville, sponsored by St. Philip’s Church, held a picnic at Waterman Lake. Cub scouts Christopher Manocchia and Thomas Phillips won the fly fishing derby.

     In Smithfield police news, a ground breaking ceremony was held to begin construction of the town’s new police station. Officials present included Senator Claiborne Pell, Chief Arthur Gould, Deputy Chief James McVey, S. Burton and Mary Mowry who donated the land, Town Council President Allan Schwartz, Councilman John Emin, and Building Committee Chairman Orlando Spinella.

    The department held a training school open to all Smithfield officers, as well as officers from Glocester and members of the Bryant College Security Patrol. Each attendee received a certificate at completion.

     Officers Robert LaChapelle and Saverio E. Serapiglia were promoted to the rank of Sergeant. Sgt. Serapiglia was also named to the newly created position of Inspector, and put in charge of the department’s detective division.

     Wayne Saco was appointed a probationary officer to the department.

     State officials warned residents living along Slack’s Pond that a bacterial disease that could be passed to humans was killing off fish. It was advised that any dead fish along the shoreline should be removed using shovels or rakes, and not be handled with bare hands.

     Gloria Thomas, Barbara Stamp, Cynthia Martone, and Sally Butterfield, of the Apple Valley Junior Women’s Club, planted shrubbery around the Greenville Grange Hall.

     On June 11 the Georgiaville Fire Company held a firemen’s memorial ceremony honoring deceased members.

     Beverly Dobson was presented with an award by the Smithfield Jaycees. The award recognized any Smithfield resident who’d provided an outstanding service to the community. Beverly was honored for her dedication and hard work with the Smithfield Historical Society.

     A local car dealership advertised a 1964 Ford thunderbird convertible for a mere $595. A quick check of the Internet indicates that the same car today, depending on condition, is selling between thirty and forty thousand dollars.

     The Hearthside Ladies Bowling League held a banquet at the Alpine Country Club in Cranston, and over 500 people attended.

     If one went to the Apple Valley Cinema they may have seen “The French Connection”, the story of two NYPD detectives tracking an international drug ring; or “Skyjacked”, a move about a hijacked airliner. Or perhaps “Klute” a crime thriller involving a prostitute and a police detective, and “The Last Picture Show”, a coming of age movie set in the 1950s.

     High School Junior Ellen Provonsil was crowned Smithfield Junior Prom Queen by class president Jim Lawson. Members of the queen’s court included Karen Henriksen, Susan Winsor, Brenda Cardente, Kathy Marzilli, Sharon McDermott, and Debra Cerroni.

     Smithfield School Superintendent John K. Boyle was elected president of the Rhode Island Association of School Superintendents. He’d served as Superintendent since 1963.

     It was announced that an indoor tennis facility would be erected off Church Street in Greenville at an estimated cost of $250,000.

     Heidi Allen, Polly Parsakian, Kathy Arruda, and Kathy Abbatematteo, of the Smithfield High School Girls Relay Team won the Rhode Island Interscholastic Track Championship.

     Track team member June Bissel set a new state record for the high jump.

     A National “Smokey Bear Poster Contest” was held, and Maureen Gustafson, age 8, sponsored by the Apple Blossom Garden Club, won first prize. She was awarded a large Smokey Bear teddy bear.

     As a suggested Father’s Day gift, one local business was offering a portable transistor radio that could receive AM/FM transmissions, as well as police and weather broadcasts. Regularly $39.95, marked down to $24.95.


Early Fire Fighting In Georgiaville

Originally published in The Smithfield Times magazine – March, 2022 

Early Fire Fighting In Georgiaville

By Jim Ignasher


Georgiaville Fire Dept.
Circa 1942

     A large two-story building known as Columbus Hall once stood at the corner of Stillwater Road and St. Michael’s Way in Georgiaville. Besides being a place of music, dancing, and theatrical entertainment, it also housed a barber shop and drug store. Shortly after midnight on July 29, 1897, flames were discovered coming from the building, and shouts of “Fire!” echoed throughout the village rousing residents from their slumber. A bucket brigade was formed, but the flames had gained too much headway, and before long the Georgiaville train station next to the hall was also ablaze. Despite the brigade’s efforts, it became obvious that both buildings would be lost, so efforts were focused on saving nearby structures.

     Falling embers ignited the Georgiaville Schoolhouse and the home of Richard Tobin, but these structures were saved.

     In 1897, organized fire protection in Georgiaville was non-existent, and it was fires such as this that prompted some to suggest that a village fire company should be established, but for reasons lost to history, establishing such a company wouldn’t happen for another seventeen years.

     As a point of fact, the only organized fire company in Smithfield at the time was in Greenville, but Greenville’s horse-drawn fire apparatus was considered obsolete for the time, yet it was better than nothing.

     It wasn’t until April of 1915, when two ice houses along Georgiaville Pond burned to the ground that a fire company was finally organized at a special meeting held at Bernon Hall. The name of the organization was chartered as “The Smithfield Fire Company”.

     Money to purchase fire apparatus and equipment was raised through subscriptions, and it was hoped to that enough would be raised to buy a motorized Ford fire tuck, but this did not materialize. Instead, the fledgling fire company began with two obsolete horse-drawn apparatus, a hook-and ladder, and a chemical wagon, both of which were housed at the Bernon Mill in a makeshift fire station. Although the apparatus were designed to be horse-drawn, there’s no evidence that the fire company owned any horses, and thereby had to rely on mussel power.

     In the autumn of 1923 the fire company purchased a brand new motorized Chandler fire truck, and then a used 1912 Packard ladder truck, and a 1912 Cadillac forest fire truck. Motorized vehicles now allowed the fire company to respond to fires beyond the locality of the village.

     On May 27, 1924, a special meeting was held where it was voted to re-incorporate The Smithfield Fire Company as the “Smithfield Volunteer Fire Company, District Number 2”. The reason for the change is unknown, but minutes of the meeting state in part that it was “…voted that this company become a permanent organization.”

     It was also in 1924 that the former Georgiaville Schoolhouse was turned over to the fire company for use as a permanent fire station. Three-thousand dollars was raised through social fundraisers to build an addition off the back to accommodate the fire trucks.

     In 1938 the fire company ordered a modern Seagraves fire engine with a 500 gallon-per-minute pump that was considered top-of-the-line for its day. It was also in that year that plans were accepted for a new fire station to be build next to the Town Hall, for the old Georgiaville School, built in the previous century, had outlived its usefulness. The fire company moved into its new quarters on October 25, 1942. The new building was adorned with bronze letters that read “Georgiaville Fire Company”.

     As a side note, although the fire company had been incorporated under two other names, it had been referred to as the “Georgiaville Fire Company” in newspapers as early as August of 1915. It didn’t officially become the Georgiaville Fire Company until 1950.

     In 1946 the fire company purchased a second-hand Packard Ambulance, which was the first fire department ambulance in Smithfield. (One anecdote told to this writer was that prior to this purchase, a local grocery store delivery wagon would sometimes be pressed into service as an ambulance.)

     Firefighting is inherently dangerous, and during its years of existence the Georgiaville Fire Company lost two members in the line of duty. The first was Lieutenant Robert W. Brown, (22), who suffered fatal injuries when he fell from a moving fire truck as it raced to a brush fire on April 2, 1960. The other was Lieutenant Eugene E. Dorgan, (38), who fell from a moving fire truck while responding to a bran fire off Colwell Road. The fire was later determined to be arson, and the perpetrator was subsequently charged.

     The Georgiaville Fire Company eventually became part of the Smithfield Fire Department as we know it today, and while the bronze letters have been removed from the fire station on Farnum Pike, the building still stands.



Georgiaville Fire – 1897

From The Olneyville Times, October 28, 1897

     At the time of this fire, Georgiaville did not have a fire department.  The Georgiaville Fire Company wasn’t established until 1915. 


Georgiaville Vol. Fire Company

Image courtesy of Dyanne Smith. 

Click on image to enlarge.

Some members of the Georgiaville, R.I. Vol. Fire Co.
Unknown Date

Georgiaville Fire Company Expenses – 1933

Georgiaville Fire Company Expenses – 1933 

Click on image to enlarge.


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